ISI 2013-9. Albuca hallii U. Müller-Doblies

This is one of those wonderful southern African bulbs with curled, twisted or coiled leaves. The occurrence of this phenomenon in a number of different plant families has inspired research that suggests it is a fog-collecting mechanism, providing surface area for condensation, and structures that drip water into the root zone. That may well be the case, but such plants are also undeniably appealing for their intriguing shapes. The paired leaves of A. hallii are cylindrical and spreading, spiraling off in opposite directions with the effect of a hot-chocolate whisk sticking out of the ground. A geophytic bulb native to the area around Lüderitz, Namibia, its leaves emerge during the winter growing season. Unusually for the genus, it flowers without leaves in the middle of summer. In cultivation, watering can begin with the cooling days of autumn and be withheld as the warmer temperatures of spring see the foliage yellow and die. Once this happens, the bulbs should be kept dry and protected from extreme summer heat. HBG 109993. $8.

Photo © 2013 by Tim Harvey. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 85 (2), March - April, 2013